Stand up to gender- based violence

2015-09-30 06:00
PHOTO: supplied

Supporters came out in their numbers for a silent protest that took place outside the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court this month during the first appearance of Siphiwe Mbanjwa (35), who allegedly killed his former girlfriend, T

PHOTO: supplied Supporters came out in their numbers for a silent protest that took place outside the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court this month during the first appearance of Siphiwe Mbanjwa (35), who allegedly killed his former girlfriend, T

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THE second silent protest, fighting against gender-based violence will take place tomorrow outside the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court.

This is when the man accused of murdering Thulile Phungula, Siphiwe­ Mbanjwa (35), reappears in court for his bail application.

The 23-year-old mother of one died as a result of being forced to drink battery acid last month. The attack took place on 21 August at Phungula’s home in Imbali.

It was reported that Phungula met Mbanjwa at the gate of her home, where he allegedly grabbed her by the neck before dragging her into a nearby bush.

She lived long enough to identify her attacker before the acid destroyed her organs.

“Thulile was a remarkable young woman - full of potential and dedicated to her work where she served as an intern at Sinamandla from May.

“On behalf of Sinamandla we were deeply saddened by her passing and strongly feel that issues of violence against women should no longer be swept under­ the carpet.

“Perpetrators of such vicious and inhuman crimes against defenceless women deserve the full arm of justice to take its place,” said Xolile Manyoni, Sinamandla co-ordinator.

Speaking to Maritzburg Fever, the director of Lifeline and Rape Crisis Pietermaritzburg­ Sinikiwe Biyela, said that this incident “shocked the team to the core” as Phungula was to begin working at the NGO on 1 September.

“She was a really bright girl and had so much potential. We couldn’t wait for her to start here and begin working with young children, who are orphans,” said Biyela.

Lifeline had started the petition to raise awareness about gender-based violence, which is on the increase in the city.

“This was the first time that gender- based violence occurred in-house with one of our staff members so it hit us hard.

“Another reason we needed to do something was because Thuli followed­ all the correct channels in terms of the law by getting a protection order against her abusive boyfriend, but she was still attacked and killed. We need to do something to protect women,” said Biyela.

She said much support has been shown by the community and other organisations­ in the city, which all turned up at the first protest, even in the inclement weather, to show their support.

“We need to create greater awareness about these issues that constantly take place in our communities.

“We need our women to stop making excuses for the men who abuse them and think that they deserved the beating because of something they think they did wrong.

“They also need to understand that they can go anywhere to get help, but they need to take a stand,” said Biyela­.

Lifeline also began an online petition to fight for justice for Phungula. To date, they have over 400 signatures from local, national and international supporters.

Speaking about the number of gender­-based violence cases handled in Pietermaritzburg, Biyela said that it is on the increase.

“Between the Thuthuzela Care Centre at Edendale Hospital and the walk-ins that we deal with at Lifeline offices, incidents are increasing every month. It’s not only the actual rape that is taking place, but the intense brutality­ that goes with it, and in public places like public toilets and taxi ranks,” she said.

Biyela said that lack of respect for women at this point in South Africa’s history is “shocking” and “of great concern”.

“What does this say about the freedom of women in this country - that they are too afraid to go into a public toilet or walk in the streets.”

People are not born abusers and rapists she said.

“Something has gone wrong in society­ and we need to go back to positive parenting and moral values. More intervention is needed and harsher sentences imposed on criminals so the community can see the end result and realise that people get punished for committing these crimes.”

Biyela said they appeal to the public to come and support the cause again tomorrow, 1 October at 8.45am.

“We need to let the court know that he [Mbanjwa] should not be released back into the community for fear of him attacking another woman, and also­ that we, as the community, are tired of gender-based violence.”

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